People V Turner - How Probation Violations affect Record Clearing Options in California

People v. Turner
District Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District
June 21, 1961

Holding: A defendant who violates the terms of his probation is no longer entitled to obtain relief under Penal Code section 1203.4.

Why This Case is Important: This case underscores the importance of obeying the terms of one’s probation. Section 1203.4 relief is awarded to those who demonstrate rehabilitation. Successfully completing probation without violation signifies to the court and society that the defendant has been reformed. As a result, those who see their probation through to its end without violation or who are discharged early for good behavior are entitled to the rewards of California’s expungement statute.

It is important to note that although a defendant with a probation violation is no longer entitled to section 1203.4 relief, a defendant may still offer evidence of rehabilitation during the probationary period in order to obtain relief in the interests of justice.

Facts of This Case: The petitioner in this case was sentenced to three years of probation. The terms of his probation were to conduct himself as a law-abiding citizen. During the probationary period, the petitioner was involved in activities that violated the terms of his probation. Upon completion of the probationary period, the petitioner moved the court to dismiss the information against him and expunge his record under section 1203.4. Petitioner argued that the law states he should be entitled to expungement because he completed his probation. However, because the petitioner failed to abide by the terms of his probation, the trial court denied the motion for dismissal of his conviction.

The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Although the petitioner had completed the term of his probation, the court of appeals determined form the record that the petitioner had violated the law during the probationary period. As a result, the court determined he was not entitled to secure section 1203.4 relief.

Key Language: “Impliedly the court found that the defendant had not fulfilled the conditions of his probation for the entire period thereof. Under these circumstances he was not entitled to the relief he asked for, and the order of the court denying his motion was proper.”

Expert Advise: “There are multiple paths to obtaining section 1203.4 relief. Unfortunately, a defendant will be precluded from arguing he is entitled to relief if he has violated the terms of his probation. However, this will not completely frustrate a defendant’s ability to dismiss his conviction. This case merely states that a defendant is not entitled to expungement, which leaves open the opportunity for the defendant to produce evidence that he is indeed rehabilitated and should therefore be granted relief in the interests of justice.” -Attorney Mathew Higbee

To read about more cases that help to define expungement and record clearing relief laws click here.

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